Written by Brittany Shawnté
Truly love being able to share these great upcoming stars with you all, and it's awesome to hear from those of you guys that are becoming fans of their work!
Today, we have UK-based singer/songwriter Yoji! The R&B/pop singer was raised in London with a family of artists. With the support of her family, Yoji began learning how to play piano at the age of 8, but was trying her hand at song writing even before that. “I used to write songs in the playground with my friend and then perform them to everyone in a big showcase,” she said. “They didn’t really make any sense looking back but it was the best part of my day making music in the breaks.”
After moving to the area of Suffolk at 11, Yoji continued piano lessons under teacher Phil Graves, learning classical music as well as jazz. She was inspired so much by the talent and artistry of Alicia Keys as well. “The way she combined piano and voice was sensational and was an example for me and opened up my creativity to start writing songs using the piano as a tool.,” the singer stated. Throughout her time in school, she has continued to write and perform, putting her full focus on music after her graduation.
Yoji is inspired by other artists such as Amy Winehouse, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, and Aretha Franklin. "Artists that play the piano and sing are a great demonstration on how to combine the two in performance," she said. "They all invoke emotions within me and they create powerful music." Her debut EP, OceanGovern SunshineRule, was released in 2015 and shows her influences, with Yoji creating a collection of powerful songs relating to love. The title actually reflects the meaning of her name, which is Japanese for "ocean, govern," and "sunshine, rule." Yoji explained, "My mum studied fashion and loved Yohji Yamamoto’s name. My parents took out the letter ‘h’ as they thought that made the name look more feminine." The singer went on to add, "I think the title works well with the meanings and messages in my music as it’s about discovering self-worth, being empowered, using emotions to create something positive and taking control of your own destiny."
One of Yoji's favorite tracks on the project, "I Need More," is an empowering track for women, encouraging them to never settle in love. "I wrote [it] after being let down in a relationship and vowing not to let it happen again," she explained. "My friends have also shared similar experiences and I wanted to write a song to remind us that we don’t need to rely on anyone as we are powerful enough on our own. That’s why in the song I say, ‘I’ll be a fearless knight, fighting for what’s right, I won’t lose sight of my worth.'" The singer added, "In the song the women becomes her own savior and is not the stereo typical damsel in distress waiting for the man to fight for her."
Currently, Yoji is recording songs for her next EP, as well as working on new collaborations with other artists. She also plans to have another tour in the UK this summer to promote OceanGovern SunshineRule!
The artist believes that what sets her apart from the rest of the pack is creating music that will evoke emotions and actually have meaning in other people's lives. "I feel like my music is honest, [and] at times vulnerable because of that," Yoji said. "I aspire to write songs that people can relate to."
In the future, she wants to continue to grow with her music, and hopes that more people will hear it. She also wants to create a full album with great musicians contributing to it. "I’d then love to showcase it in a world tour as I love to travel, explore new places and most of all perform on stage!" Yoji added.
You can check out more from Yoji on SoundCloud and YouTube. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!